ON THE VALUE OF WRITING EVERY DAY
There’s a school of thought that suggests a writer should write every day. And there’s another that suggests it isn’t necessary. The right answer is whatever works for you. As with any art, writing is a personal journey.
That said, I wrote every day for fifteen years. I wrote on Christmas, on my birthday, on the day my father passed away. Even if I was sick as a dog, I made it a point to write one word before I went to bed, just to have written something that day. I can describe what I experienced during those years.
Polish. Every time I opened a script I was working on, I would read everything I had written up to the point where I had left off. I caught at lot of slips I might not have otherwise seen if I waited until the end and then just did a quick roll-through.
Tightening. By a similar token, by re-reading everything I had written up until that point, I was able to see everything that had come before with fresh eyes, and reword and tighten as I went. There were a lot of times I would start with 50 pages of script, and by the time I started writing new stuff, I was working on top of 47 better pages of script.
Focus. The primary benefit that comes with writing every day is this: If you know you’re going to write that day, no matter what, you’re thinking about what you’re going to write that day. So while sitting in traffic… standing on an elevator… waiting in line… in any idle moment you’re playing out those words and lines and scenes.
Then: when you actually have a chance to sit down in front of the keyboard, you’re ready to go. There is a momentum.
I’ve found I can write very quickly so long as I know what I’m writing. When you’re sitting there figuring out what to write, what comes next, not only are you working to generate mental momentum, but it’s incredibly easy to get distracted. The lure of goofing around while you think of something to write becomes strong.
Rolling through the script to the point of having left off, and then immediately jumping into new stuff with the ideas that came in those idle moments, is a great way to roll up the sleeves and get some real work done.
Insight. When you’re thinking of what you’re going to write all day, besides focus there also comes insight. Along with new stuff, you’re thinking of what you’ve already written, and suddenly those “Wait a minute, what if she does this instead?!” moments come. They’re exciting, and keep the work fresh and interesting.
Production. Writers write. During those fifteen years I wrote a lot: dozens of scripts, several books, etc. These days I still write five-to-seven days a week. The words stack up like bricks, and that’s how you build houses.